- We are attending Thanksgiving at my in-laws and I am concerned about how they will treat my children. My husband is an only child and we have three very rowdy young boys. Last time we visited, my in-laws made several negative comments about the boys. My sons have no cousins and were bored for most of the afternoon. I thought they did as well as could be expected given they had nothing to do after the meal. Any thoughts on how to prepare?
Something about family and food gatherings brings out the best and worst of families. Before you go, plan some sort of entertainment for the kids. Bring board games, an electronic interactive game, maybe go outside and play for awhile and work off some energy, or do what my family did for years—go bowling. None of us were regular bowlers, which made the event more fun. After we ate and pitched in with clean up, a group of us headed for the bowling alley. Grownups and kids bowled together and were loud and crazy. It was a fun activity that allowed those who wanted to get of the house for awhile to do something together. And those who stayed behind had a chance to rest and relax. Let your in-laws know ahead of time that this year you will have activities for the kids after the meal. They are welcomed to join you or use the time to rest. Hopefully this will take care of the negative comments. But if those comments are still made, smile, tell your in-laws that family dinners are not easy for rambunctious boys but they are really trying. Stay on top of them with your discipline. Tell your in-laws that you are doing the best you can and hope for a little grace for the holiday. If not, you be the one who offers grace.
Q: Thanksgiving is a holiday that doesn’t seem to get its due. I want my children to understand the meaning of the holiday, as it is an important part of American history. What kinds of activities can I do with my children that will teach them more about this important day?
A: I agree that Thanksgiving doesn’t get the same attention as other holidays. Yet it is an important part of American history that should not be relegated to a big meal! Here are a few ideas. Print up a paper that says, “I am thankful for…” and everyday in November have your kids fill in the blank. Then, read a few of their answers on Thanksgiving. Print up an Indian sign language charts and use them to write a story. Cook a few original colony foods (you can look these up on the Internet) and talk about the first feast. My children couldn’t believe eel and squirrel were on the menu of the settlers. Try your hand at several colonial crafts like weaving and pottery making with homemade clay. Get an archery board and shoot arrows. Build a campfire and try to cook something over it. Activities like these will make the holiday come alive and give an appreciation of what times were like during colonial days. Finally find quotes about the holiday like this one from Abraham Lincoln, “But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, by the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own…” and talk about what Lincoln meant and how we can remember to give God the glory for all we have.